Highgroove Music

Supporting a community of musicians who seek to grow from sharing experiences and industry insight. This site is dedicated to exploring music marketing from the Indie artists perspective. Please contact me if you need help with marketing your music.

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Location: Rogers, Arkansas, United States

Friday, December 16, 2005

Shortest Distance Between Two Points

One of my favorite movies is Dumb and Dumber. dog car Yeah, I know that says a lot about me but the movie has some great lessons for musicians. Remember the part when Harry is asleep while Lloyd is driving through Kansas? They stop in Colorado to eat and then get back in the car. Lloyd went to sleep and Harry gets back on the highway and drives 200 miles back into Kansas before they figure out what happened! Eventually, they turn around and make it to Aspen, Colorado but they waste valuable time zig zagging back and forth. Without a marketing plan and some set goals, your band is as lost as Harry and Lloyd.

For new bands, there is nothing more important than laying a solid foundation for success as early as possible. It's easy to get caught up in the art of music-making and overlook the business of music simply because that stuff is no fun. Over the years I've noticed a nasty cycle that most indie bands are familiar with. Here's how it usually goes down: You've been jamming together for some time as a band and recognize that you all have special connection in music. The band decides to get some shows and play live around town. A three song demo is recorded in somebody's bathroom (for that nice reverb effect) by somebody in the band with pirated version of ProTools. The most outgoing person in the band becomes the booking agent and ends up overwhelmed doing all the business of the band. This causes major conflict within the band. The band decides to go "pro" while gigging only once per month in local dives for $50 per show. Attendance at shows reaches an all time high at 40! The band gets stiffed by 5 out of 10 venues. The promoter cites low attendance as the reason. A year passes and the band still has no product; no album, no glossy photos, no website, no merchandise, no direction and no money. A second year passes and the band still has no product, no album, no glossy photos, no website, no merchandise, no direction and no money. Now the band is desperately hoping a record label will save them from abject poverty. In reality, this band would be a huge risk to a record label. (Learn why in the next post)

Friday, June 10, 2005

It's More Blessed to Give Than to Receive (Part II)

Eleven solid years in a professional sales career has taught me to take the time to ask others what their needs are and help them first, and they will almost magically be compelled to help me with my needs. I've tested this principle time after time and found it to be very solid. When you are developing a relationship, take the time to ask the other person questions about the things that are important to them. Sometimes it can be as simple as pleasantness. Try to avoid calling the person just to hound them about doing something for you, especially putting their name on the line to help you get a booking. You can be sure that this approach will turn them off. Instead start your conversation by asking them good questions about them and their business. If you note their preferences, concerns and needs, you will be better equipped to offer something valuable to them.

In the 90's, I was working as a salesperson in the beverage industry. There was a Kroger manager who was a real tough nut to crack and I had a tough time convincing him to let me put up displays around the store. I would storm in his office and tell him all the great things I wanted to do with Dr. Pepper in his store. I never let him get in a word! The more I approached him this way, the more he would try to avoid me. One day, I overheard him talking to another rep about his interest in flyfishing and that he wished he knew of an outfitter on the White River who could put him on some good trout fishing opportunities. Well, It just so happened that I had a buddy who was a guide on the White River who would be a perfect fit. This time I approached the Kroger manager and told him that I had overheard his conversation about flyfishing. He was surprised to know that I was into flyfishing. I told him about my buddy and he even called him right then and there to set up his trip. After I had helped him with his flyfishing trip, he let me put up displays all over the store. But I made a note of this experience and found that selling starts with an earnest effort help others. So next time you make a call to network, remember it is more blessed to give than to receive.

It's More Bledded to Give Than to Receive

Over the last couple of weeks I've been reflecting on some good principles for anyone in business but especially folks in the music business. This first principle can apply to anyone who is networking the industry and building contacts or the artist who is just working with the team of people who support what they do from day to day. You can even apply this principle to friends and family with great success.

When you first help other people meet their needs, they will be more willing to help you. I remember when I was very new to the game and I was calling music industry folks to network. Often, I was so focused in on what I wanted out of the call, I missed the opportunity to hear the other persons needs and three things would result: 1. They would avoid my future calls. 2. They called me a lot less and 3. They secretly resented my self-centeredness. My ambition had bit me in the rear end. As a rookie, I had a lot to learn.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Interview with You Before Me (Part 2)

Rob Dunning talks about how attitude affects your approach to networking. Listen to the interview by clicking on the play button:
this is an audio post - click to play

Interview with You Before Me (Part 1)

Rob Dunning talks about how he approaches networking and booking new venues. Listen to the interview by clicking on the play button:
this is an audio post - click to play

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Interview with Dean Agus (part 2)

Dean talks about his priorities as an artist. We also discuss his upcoming recording project and solo debut. Listen to the interview by clicking on the play button:
this is an audio post - click to play

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Interview with Dean Agus (part 1)

Dean talks about his career as an Independent musician and shares some tips for success. Listen to the interview by clicking on the play button:
this is an audio post - click to play

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Jeremiah Rich births debut cd

I'm excited to say that my good friend Jeremiah Rich has just completed his self-titled debut album. He was up all night working on the finishing touches and will be sending the artwork and master off to Thunder Ridge in Mountain View, AR for duplication. Jeremiah is a gifted singer/songwriter who also has a special talent on acoustic guitar. If you like Nickel Creek, you'll like Jeremiah's style. I personally think Jeremiah's sound is a mix somewhere between the percussive guitar strumming of Shane Bernard and vocal essence of a younger Michael Stipe, yet captures a truly original flavor. He plans to release the album three weeks from now so I'll find out where he will be performing for his release party. I'll be sure to let everyone know how things develop. For now, here's a preview of the album artwork.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Research and organization: enemies of the artist

Networking is very important when you are trying to break into or even sustain a career in the music business. People get hired and fired and sometimes even move on to better things (or worse) so it takes some degree of organization and research to keep your contact list up to date. Yes, I know I just typed the "O" word! Personally, I spent a lot of time as an artist fleeing from "organization" but it finally caught up with me. If you take the music business seriously, you will have to embrace order and discipline whether it's practice on your instrument, voice, bookkeeping or money skills. Organization is definately critical to your success. As you research and as you network with other artists, put your notes and contacts in some type of database like Microsoft Outlook or Address Book on Mac. Take the time to research the person you are going to contact by phone whether they represent a venue contact, media contact or industry contact. You can call other bands that have already played the venue you want to start working with. Chances are they can give you insight into the contact person, protocols and pay to expect from the gig. Whether the venue is a festival, church or coffeehouse, you'll be more prepared for your call and the venue contact will appreciate that you have taken an interest in them and/or their mission. The venue may also have a website with a calendar listing artists who have played or who are booked. This is a also a good place to start your research. In addition, you may search online for band websites with gig calendars to see where they are playing. Call them and ask about the venue. On your database, fill in essential information but also take the time to add some personal notes so you will remember important things. Build your database of venue leads and become a tenacious networker by making daily calls to a variety of contacts. Set daily goals for yourself. Your career will flourish and your confidence will increase. The next topic: finding good leads. Please comment if you find this snippet helpful or have a question about researching venue contacts.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Got Phone Skills?

One thing I've noted from my many years of sales training is that role playing can be an effective tool to help sharpen your effectiveness on the phone or in person when talking with clients. Many indie artists have told me how they struggle with phone skills when calling venues. Most of the resources on the web tell artists how to book gigs at bars and nightclubs but this is not always helpful to the indie Christian artist who is booking with venues like churches and festivals. Over the next few posts, your going to see some audio links. We're going to listen in on some good examples of role play that focus on calling churches, festivals and even coffeehouse venues. Take these examples and build on them. Have your bandmates or other musicians you know do some role-play with you over the phone to help you become more comfortable on the phone. Keep in mind that your first call to any venue promoter is almost always a RELATIONSHIP-BUILDING call. Most of you know how it feels to get a call from a telemarketer who can't even get your name right and then they go right into their sales pitch. I don't know about you, but this approach just turns me off and I hang up in disgust. I've found that an attitude of genuine curiosity and interest in the person on the other end of the phone will open doors to great relationships and opportunities. If you're a new indie artist, I recommend that you are very humble when talking with venue contacts over the phone. If you don't know something, don't carry on like you do because the these people will likely see right through your amateur approach. It's OK to tell them that you are new at this and are learning the ropes. We all have to start somewhere and who knows, they might pity you enough to help you out! Well...if you're good. I hope this gets us off to a good start. Please post your comments and questions as this subject develops.

Some quick rules of thumb on your first call to a venue:

  • Make sure you spend most of your time talking with the person who can make the decision to hire you.
  • Take the time prior to your call to write up a list of around five questions you can ask the venue.
  • Be prepared to share your personal testimony if the opportunity arises.
  • Get your music to them (demo) or them to your music (www).
  • Let them know specific day and general time you will follow up with them for feedback on your music.
  • Keep a journal and database of your calls and contacts. Must be consistent!
  • Keep a calendar for callbacks and appointments. Must be consistent!
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